Drone technology has changed the way movie makers work over a very short span of time, and it is essentially transforming how Hollywood makes pictures for the general audience. Drone technology is having a significant impact on the way movies are made, how much they cost to produce, and who can afford to make high-quality movies these days. It has influenced cinematography more than any other technological advancement in the last decade or two.
Bangladeshi cinematographers and YouTubers are using various types of drones to enhance their shots.
There has been a new addition to cinema-grade drones. It is called an FPV(First Person View) drone. Although FPV drones have existed for quite some time, they were used only for racing and stunts.
For the first time, DJI has introduced a ready-to-fly FPV drone to the market. The main feature of this drone is that it is fast! Faster than any other consumer drone currently available on the market.
It includes single-shot still photography modes, JPEG image format, maximum speeds of 140 km per hour in manual mode, 97.2 km per hour in sport mode, and 54 km per hour N mode, 4 antennas, HDL digital transmission, intelligent motion controller, emergency stop and hover, lithium-Ion battery cell, and a video bandwidth of 50 Mbps.
What is an FPV drone & what is DJI offering?
FPV drones have been used for Freestyling and Drone racing for quite a long time. Most FPV enthusiasts try to build their FPV drones. You can find many DIY FPV drone kits online.
An FPV drone usually comes with a high-tech headgear that resembles the type of virtual reality headset that you'd get on a gaming PC or console. You can put your smartphone into a headset adapter unit for a more cheap solution. The FPV goggles display the camera's live video feed, which you can then use to move the drone. Using the FPV camera, you may get as close to flying as possible without touching the ground. These types of drones are small and lightweight, allowing them to manoeuvre quickly without taking damage.
The cameras integrated into these builds generally have lower quality feed than industry-standard film drones. The main reason for this is speed. These drones are quick and milliseconds of lag can cause trouble for the pilot to steer the drone without taking any damage.
This is where DJI's new FPV drone comes into place. On an electronically stabilized tilt-only gimbal(gimbals are used to stabilize cameras to achieve steady shots), the front-facing camera records in 4K at 60 frames per second, and there's a microSD card slot for internal recording. It's designed to travel fast while maintaining a good first-person viewpoint, with no compromises made to portability. It weighs 800 grams (300 of this is the battery cell) and does not fold at all, however, the props are simple to remove.
The FPV has three modes of operation: N: Normal, S: Sport, and M: Manual. Anyone who has flown a DJI drone in the past few years will recognise N mode. The drone makes a lot of effort to figure out your commands and generate a clean flight path for the drone to fly. It's a fantastic mode for basic takeoffs and landings, as well as flying near blockages.
If you want greater flexibility and speed when flying, go to S mode. You can also change into M while flying, but be cautious. M is a completely different type of flying. Once the drone stops performing as much work for you, you are granted more direct control over the system.
Due to the lack of a gimbal for stabilisation, this drone is best suited for shots that are straight forward or backward. The drone will have to travel sideways to get a side-to-side or circular tracking shot. While this drone can accomplish that, moving sideways will cause the drone to lose its flight level, and there will be no gimbal to keep the video stable while you do so.
Should you buy it instead of a traditional drone?
There are some things you have to consider before buying any drone. The FPV drone might look very interesting at first glance. But it has very limited usability if you consider other drones that are currently available in the market. It does not incorporate any gimbal. That means you can't take steady shots. You have to physically rotate the drone to take these kinds of shots.
Traditional drones have significantly more flight time than FPV drones. So, if you want more flight time, The FPV drone is not for you.
The FPV drone is fast. It almost has double the speed of other traditional DJI drones such as Mavic Air, Mavic mini, Phantom. So, you have to be very cautious when flying the FPV drone. Otherwise, it can cause serious damage to people and property. The good thing is DJI has a simulator that lets you practice without flying the drone in a physical world. There are also many safety features such as intelligent motion controllers, emergency breaks, etc.
If you can master the FPV flying style you can end up taking some interesting shots which you can not capture using traditional drones. You can shoot high-speed objects from interesting angles using this drone. The Goggle, which has a 144Hz refresh rate, makes the flying experience more lively and will seriously improve how you take your shots.
Now comes the price. Like any film & photography equipment, drones are expensive. The DJI FPV combo will cost you around Tk145,000 if you buy it from bdstall.com. Its price will vary a little bit depending on the dealer. Still, it is a lot of money for a drone that serves a very specific purpose.
Ahmed Hasan Baky is a professional filmmaker based in Dhaka. He has worked in music videos for famous artists like Raef Al Hasan Rafa, Shishir Ahmed. In his opinion drones serve a very particular purpose. If you don't have the skill to operate a drone you should not invest money in a drone, let alone an FPV drone. But If you have the skills and financial backup, drones can improve your shots drastically.
Which drone should you buy then?
If you are not planning to buy an FPV as your first drone, there are traditional drones available in the market to choose from. They are easier to fly than FPV drones. Flying for a week or two will be enough to operate these drones. Some suggested drones are
DJI Mini 2
Price : Tk73,999
Where to buy: Startech
Features: DJI mini is a small and probably the cheapest DJI drone you can buy right now. It has a 12-megapixel wide-angle camera with 30 minutes of flight time.
DJI Mavic Air 2 (fly more combo)
Where to buy: BDStall
Feature: DJI Mavic Air 2 is a professional drone with lightweight architecture. It has a flight time of 33-34 minutes(depending on the wind). It can record at 4K 60 frames per second and has 10 km of range.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro+ V2.0
Where to buy: Diamu.com.bd
Feature: DJI Phantom 4 Pro is famous among filmmakers. It has a 20 megapixel CMOS sensor that can capture 4K videos up to 60 frames per second. It has amazing safety features and flight modes which makes the drone versatile and suitable for all types of drone shots. Its lightweight construction and usage of strong material make it a go-to drone for video enthusiasts.
Whatever drone you buy, try to make sure you have a clear understanding of your videography goals and plans. Otherwise, it can be a very big financial risk.